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Tips for Meeting Your Online Date Face to Face

by Jill Kane

If you've been fortunate enough to meet someone special online, you're probably pretty happy and looking forward to the time you get to meet him/her face to face. But perhaps you're a little bit nervous, too. After all, when you're dating online, you can re-read what you've written before you hit the send button, and when you chat, you aren't making eye contact, so there's still a bit of a cushion between you and the other person that may make you feel a bit safer. You could use your computer while sitting around in your favorite sweats and bunny slippers and not worry about how you looked.

But the first real, live date in person means that they're going to see you up-close and personal, and you suddenly have to think about a whole new set of issues. What should you wear? Will your laugh sound horrible? What about your hair (or lack of it)? Old insecurities might resurface. The good news is, you've already gotten past those first few awkward conversations that usually doom a blind date because you've already gotten to know each other. It also helps to remember that he/she is probably worried about the same things. Just remember that you've already relaxed and talked or emailed and chatted with this person, so you're just adding a new dimension to an already established relationship, not starting over from square one.

Meet Somewhere Comfortable

Comfortable means casual - don't blow it by deciding to meet at an upscale restaurant where either of you will be nervous about the numerous forks or interpreting the complicated wine list. Go somewhere that feels relaxed and friendly, making it easier to slide into conversation with the restaurant or cafe as the background, not the main event. The main event should be you two meeting each other.

For the first meeting, forgo the movies - after all, you want the chance to talk and really make contact, don't you? Sitting in the dark staring at a screen for two hours won't accomplish much, so save that for further down the line. Instead, dinner and a nice stroll afterward, or (in bad weather) museum or art galleries are good ideas. You will have topics for conversation and plenty of time to stop whenever you want to. Sporting events are also great because they get the adrenalin pumping and the excitement is contagious, especially if you share a passion for the home team.

Don't make the first date intimate, and don't meet someplace that isn't public. Until you meet face to face, you can't fully gauge someone's intentions, so give yourself the opportunity to observe them in a public setting like a gallery, restaurant or sports arena - they way they act in these places will give you a real insight into their character that you just can't get emailing or chatting one-on-one online. If it goes well and you get a good feeling, move on to more private dating situations in the future.

Keep It Short

The first date should be short - it keeps the pressure off, and gives you both a chance to review, think things over and decide what you think before moving on to the next date. If a date drags on too long, you can sometimes do things you might regret later simply because you didn't know how to end the evening. One way to avoid this is to make the first date either a lunch date or a date mid-week, when you know you have to leave early because you have to be up early for work the next day. This way, either one of you can say, "I'd love to stay longer, but I really have to go for now. Let's talk tomorrow (or whenever you feel comfortable suggesting) about when we can get together again." You will have time to go home, process the evening, and really think about how it went and how your date made you feel. If you find yourself smiling, it was a success!

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